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TEXARKANA, Texas — The City Council on Monday voted unanimously to approve a Fiscal Year 2020 budget and leave the city's property tax rate unchanged.

That rate will remain at $0.70 per $100 valuation. The city's overall property valuation is expected to increase by more than $39 million, resulting in an increase of property tax revenue of more than $273,000. The budget projects an increase in sales tax revenue of 2%, or more than $335,000, compared with FY 2019.

The city's total revenue for the year is expected to be more than $40.5 million, with expenditures totaling more than $41.3 million, leaving more than $13.3 million in the general fund balance. That's enough for 91 days of expenditures. By city ordinance, the minimum reserve is 60 days of expenditures.

Ward 5 Council Member Bill Harp expressed gratitude to city staff for working through the annual budget process.

"I'd like to thank our city management and finance for taking care of the taxpayers' money, able to keep us at the same tax rate as the past several years," Harp said.

City Manager Shirley Jaster also recognized the staff's work.

"We feel like we have a good budget that will provide good services for the community," she said.

The budget accounts for police and firefighter seniority pay as required by law, and the Police Department will get a 3% pay increase totaling $175,000. The budget sets aside $125,000 for non-civil service compensation increases and $207,000 for Texarkana Water Utilities employee raises.

 

Other highlights of the budget include:

— a plan to issue more than $7 million in bonds to build a new fire station north of Interstate 30 and a bridge connecting segments of Gibson Lane over Wagner Creek;

 

— $1.74 million earmarked for maintaining and replacing city vehicles;

 

— $800,000 allocated for major road repairs and improvements;

 

— spending $200,000 in hotel tax revenue to promote sports tourism — especially youth tournaments — in the city; and

 

— spending $50,000 for fire station renovations and $40,000 for new emergency generators.

 

In other business, the Council granted a special use permit to allow application of permanent cosmetics at 3003 Richmond Road. It also voted to rezone 8204 N. Kings Highway to allow a home to be built there.

The Council's next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23.

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